Romance Fiction posted January 9, 2022 Chapters:  ...66 68 -70- 71... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Gabriel tries to find out what Katherine is hiding.

A chapter in the book Football - A Novel

Football Chapter 41

by barbara.wilkey

After Katherine's husband dies, she struggles raising her four sons by herself. Is Gabriel the father figure the boys never had and the husband she deserves?
Katherine and Gabriel have known each other for 50 days.


After dinner and dishes were finished, they sat on the couch as Gabriel said, "I have a feeling there are some things on your mind. Want to talk about them?"

"Joshua and the magazine."

"Our agreement was if he ever did it again, I'd tell you. That seemed to scare him enough to correct his actions. We also discussed what example he was setting for his younger brothers, if they found it."

"Thank you. I'm sure I wouldn't have handled it so peacefully."

Gabriel chuckled. "He did mention murder. When I assured him you wouldn't, he switched to grounding for life."

"Murder would've crossed my mind." She hesitated. "Maybe grounding only until he turned eighty-five."

"Sounds more than fair." He released a deep breath. "What else?"

"Mr. Novak mentioned why 'would a man like you be interested in a widow with four children'."

He leaned over and kissed her. "Because I fell in love with you. As for the boys, they've burrowed into my heart."

"You sure?"

"Positive." Gabriel held her close. "I feel there's more?"

"Nothing I'm willing to discuss right now."

"But there is something?" After she nodded, he studied her and then said, "Okay, I'll table it until you're ready."

She kissed him. "Thank you. I appreciate it."


After the staff and students filed into the gym for the pep rally, Gabriel stood up front. "Go Bears!" The students repeated it and it continued five times before he said, "I'm sure you already know our girls' cross country team won again last night. Tonight I'm confident the football team will be victorious over the Hawks." He grinned. "I plan on seeing all of you at the Homecoming Dance Saturday night."

A student yelled, "Coach, a rumor's going around that you're finally bringing a date. Is that true?"

Gabriel chuckled. "Nothing gets by you." He put his hand out toward the cheerleaders. "Let's start this pep rally." He put the mic up to his lips again. "That being said, I'm still patrolling the dance. So don't think you can get by with any shenanigans."

The student body booed.

Raising his arm, Gabriel chuckled and yelled, "Go Bears!" Again, it was repeated.

Gabriel stopped by cross country practice as he did every practice. He sighed as he glanced at his walkie-talkie. "Got to go. The knuckleheads are restless. I hope they calm down before the game or it might be a long game."

Katherine admired the view as she watched Gabriel walk away.

As Katherine and the boys sat in section C of the stands, Angie walked up. "How'd the biopsy go this morning?"

"They took four samples. I should hear something Monday. The waiting is murder."

"It is for me. I can only imagine what you're going through. Have you told Gabe?"

"No. I don't want him worrying for nothing. When I know something, I'll tell him. He knows something's going on, but I said I wasn't ready to talk. He accepted it."

Angie nodded. "Here he comes." When he got closer, she asked, "Gabe, you feel good about this game?"

He glanced at the opposing team. "I do. What were you two discussing? It looked important."

Katherine smiled. "It was. We were discussing what dresses we're wearing tomorrow night and how to accessorize."

"You're a horrible liar but for now I'll accept it." He faced the team and shook his head. "I need to get busy." He ran toward the boys, lectured them, and sent them around the track. "If you mess that up, you'll run it again! Get moving!"

Katherine released a deep breath. "I guess they haven't settled down. I wonder how many laps they're going to run."

Angie studied the boys. "Knowing Gabe they may run until kick-off."

Harold addressed it over the loud speaker system. "It looks like our boys are up to their usual Homecoming shenanigans. I wonder when they'll learn Coach Hudson doesn't play, especially when there's a game about to start. We only have eight new players. The rest of the team knows better. They should've remembered last year."

Gabriel faced where Katherine sat and shrugged his shoulders.

She returned with a 'thumbs-up'.

With the lap completed, Gabriel huddled the boys.

Katherine glanced at Angie. "I guess they figured it out."

"I hope you're right. I'd better get back to my section."

Within the first few minutes of the game, the Bears recovered a fumble and scored. The score 0-to-7.

By halftime, the score was 0-to-28.

When the boys returned from halftime, they weren't running in their usual formation. Gabriel threw his cap down and motioned for them to run another lap. Katherine could tell he was yelling at Bill.

Angie came over. "I doubt he's yelling at Bill, but about the situation. Bill doesn't look upset."

"I'm sure you're right." She noticed him on the walkie-talkie.

The following voice they heard was Harold's. "Our Bears have made numerous substitutions. Here's the list."

Katherine released a deep breath. "Discipline?"

Angie nodded. "I believe so."

Joshua said, "Does Coach want to lose the game?"

Katherine faced her son. "No. He wants a well-disciplined team. If they don't follow the rules, they don't play."

Joshua studied the running players. "Man, that's harsh."

"That's life," said Katherine.

The cross country girls sitting with them commented among themselves before Rhonda asked, "Coach, would you do that to us?"

"If you deserved it, I would."

"Even if it caused us to lose a meet?"

"Winning won't get you through life, but being well-disciplined will." Katherine hesitated. "I think that was the most important lesson I learned from running."

Half-way through the third quarter, the Hawks scored. Now it was 7-to-28.

Going into the fourth quarter the score was 14-28.

The starting line-up sat on the bench and hung their heads.

Bill went over and said something to them, and then spoke with Gabriel.

Gabriel walked over and talk to them. They all nodded.

Harold announced, "Bear fans, it seems there's been some repentance and these boys will be going back in the game. Let's hope they learned their lesson. Coach Hudson won't be so nice the next time."

Gabriel faced Katherine and gave a 'thumbs-up'. She returned it.

The ending score was 14-to-35.

When Gabriel and Jordan walked in the door, the younger boys had just finished eating.

As they sat, Katherine set plates in front of each of them. "I hope you like Philly cheesesteak with fresh fruit and veggies."

Jordan took a bite. "It's one of my favorites."

Gabriel grinned. "Everything you've fixed has been good."

Joshua came into the room after putting his place setting in the kitchen. "Coach, what were you thinking when you benched the starting line-up? Didn't you want to win? I thought you were all about winning."

"Of course, I wanted to win. But more importantly I wanted those knuckleheads to learn they needed to listen. Discipline wins games, not running off like you have no sense. They were hyped up because it's Homecoming. When you're like that, you don't engage your brain and make mistakes. Mistakes lose games."

Katherine winked at Gabriel. "Ready for more?"

He rubbed his stomach. "I think so."

She faced Jordan. "How about you?"

"Maybe a half. Can you do half?"

"I can do whatever you want. I'll be right back." When Katherine returned, she passed out the sandwiches and sat.

"Thanks, Mom." Jordan faced Joshua. "Coach was right. That team was incredibly easy. We should've beaten them 100-to-nothing. I have a feeling when we watch the game film we'll see a lot of missed plays."

Gabriel took a bite and chewed before he added, "Jordan's right. We have seven weeks before district. Now's not the time to start playing sloppy. We're undefeated."

Joshua took a drink. "You're already planning for district?"

With raised eyebrows, Gabriel said, "I've been planning for it since the end of last season. Why?"

"I never looked at it that way."

Katherine touched her son's hand. "It's time for you to go upstairs."

Nodding, Joshua kissed his mom's cheek. "Good night." He fist bumped Coach. "Good night."

Her eyes met Gabriel's. "Sorry about the questions."

"Not a problem. He thinks and questions. That's good. I don't mind." When her head tilted, he grinned. "Really I don't. Growing up I was probably a cross between him and Jeremy. I understand." He stood. "Let's get these dishes done." He glanced at his watch. "Since this was a home game, it's not late, yet. You don't have an early morning race, so you get to sleep late."

"Sure, Jeremy gets up at first light. He's better than a rooster."

"Jeremy and I have so much in common it's scary."

After dishes were finished, Gabriel backed Katherine against the refrigerator and placed his hands against it, pinning her. "You can't get away. Angie knows your secret, right?" Katherine answered yes, so he continued, "Does Bill know?"

"I don't think so, because he'd tell."

"Figures. What were you talking about before the game?"

"I told you. What we're wearing tomorrow night."

"Okay, I'll bite. What are you wearing?"

"We decided our 'little black dresses' weren't appropriate for a High School Homecoming Dance. Then you interrupted us."

Gabriel grinned. "You own a little black dress?"

"Would you like to see it?"

"I can't wait." He hesitated. "But I still don't believe you."

"I'll tell you Monday after I get more information."

Joshua walked into the kitchen. "Coach, why do you have Mom pinned against the refrigerator?"

"Because she has information I want."

Shaking his head, Joshua chuckled. "Good luck with that. If she doesn't want to talk, she won't. Haven't you learned that yet?"

"Obviously not, but I'm beginning to figure it out." He picked her up , carried her to the couch, and set her down. "Maybe I'll try a different tactic." He watched Joshua return upstairs.

Once Gabriel was sure Joshua had returned to his room, he kissed her. "Maybe I'll kiss you until you talk."

"Since, I won't talk; all that'll get you is a cold shower."

"And probably seventy-five push-ups."

She giggled.

After kissing her a few more times, he asked, "It's not working, is it?"

"Depends what your goal is. If your goal is to get me to talk, it's not."

"What if my goal is to show you how much I love you?"

"Then it worked perfectly."

He kissed her one more time and then stood. "I need to leave." He exhaled. "Good night. See you in the morning. Come on, Reggie." He petted Daisy's head. "Good night, Girl."

"Good night." Katherine leaned against the closed door. "I'm so in love with that impossible jock."


Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons. She teaches high school math and also coaches girls cross country.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Harold Hudson Gabriel's dad and football announcer.

Sandy Teenage girl on cross country team.

Judy Teenage girl on cross country team.

Rhonda Morgan Teenage girl on cross country team, and victim of dating violence.

Mr. and Mrs. Morgan Rhonda's parents.

Kenny Clark Teenager - Rhonda's boyfriend

Grace Former friend of Gabriel and featured in porn magazine

Janette & Jackson Riley Katherine's in-laws

Dr. Martin Jordan's doctor

Troy Elder Lawyer and friend of Gabriel from his pro-football days

UIL The University Interscholastic League exists to provide educational extracurricular academic, athletic, and music contests. The UIL was created by The University of Texas at Austin in 1910 and has grown into the largest inter-school org

Benjamin Weinberg Lawyer for George's mistress and baby

Gail Mitchel and her daughter, Jewel George's mistress and baby

Mr. Novak Riley's lawyer

Judge Ryan Washington Judge Troy asked to sit in the meeting.



Thank you Google images for sharing a photo of a homecoming banner. I also want to thank everybody for the helpful reviews. Again, thank you for catching those errors. There are 11 posts left after this one. I'm trying to post entire chapters, instead of posting them in parts. Katherine and Gabriel still have some life issues to navigate. This is truly the calm before the storm. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little over 1500 words.

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